One reaction to the attempted killing spree during the U.S. Congress intramural baseball practice is a call for civil discourse.
Public nastiness is now common and accepted.
Left unchecked, murder may become a common way to win an argument or at least have the final word.
But what is civil discourse; is it defined; are there examples?
A members only section of the Protective Security Council website, the “PSC Exchange,” is for discussion. What’s acceptable in the Exchange, a participation condition, is civilized discussion, and there are rules for conduct.
“PSC Exchange” rules govern written words, but apply equally well to those spoken.
Adopting these rules, outside of PSC membership, is a choice. If you don’t have your own rules for conduct, and want some, you can borrow these.
The PSC Guide To Civilized Conversation and Camaraderie
The Rules of the Forum
There are countless places on the Internet where people can shout, growl, snarl, threaten, and tear each other down and apart. We decided not to compete with those places. Your conversations set the tone for everyone. You can influence the PSC community by choosing to start and engage in PSC Exchange discussions that reflect the PSC mission. The proper tone is to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable in participating.
Treat the PSC Exchange with the same respect you would your public library. The Exchange is a shared community resource – a place to share skills, knowledge, and interests through ongoing conversation. Act appropriately because this is a civilized place.
If you are reading this to see if what you are about to write violates PSC Exchange rules, you are thinking the wrong way about the purpose of the Exchange. Start with respect and a purpose to add value to the conversation. That is the way to win over others.
Good Behavior and Good Manners
• Be respectful of others and other points of view.
• It’s common to disagree. Indeed, most energetic conversations are born of strong disagreement. Disagreement is okay because it forces us to make our case. Be agreeable even when you disagree.
• Criticize ideas, not people.
• Your posts should build up the conversation, not tear it down.
• Respond to the content of a post, not the tone.
• Make well-reasoned, empirical counter-arguments to make your winning point.
• Be respectful of others’ beliefs, cultures, IQ, gender, age, physical or sensory impairment, race, and national origin.
• The PSC is an international community; English may not be every member’s first language.
• When you write something, in your mind’s eye, picture yourself standing face-to-face to with the person you are addressing. How you would feel if your comments were printed in your local newspaper and your mother read them. Would she be proud?
Bad Behavior and Bad Manners
• Name-calling, personal attacks, insults, or demeaning comments.
• One-on-one argument.
• False rumors, news, or accusations.
• Porn and sexually explicit material or links to sites with that content.
• Posts that a reasonable person would consider obscene or offensive.
• Even the appearance of rudeness.
• No language that is hateful or violates laws.
• Foolish or intentional contradiction of common knowledge,
• Request for trivial follow-up postings.
• Questions and comments intended to incite controversy, annoyance, and offense solely to provoke a reaction or cause trouble.
• This is not the place to settle personal or commercial disputes.
• Postings are deemed libelous if the objective is to damage an individual or company.
Michael Nossaman is founder of the Protective Security Council.
Photo: FreeImages.com/Gerd Paulsen